Ryu Hayabusa wields the deadly Dragon Sword in Team Ninja’s return to the Ninja Gaiden series in Ninja Gaiden II. In its first true sequel from the acclaimed Xbox hit, Ninja Gaiden II is prepared to dismember the competition reclaiming its spot as the number one action game on the market.

Returning to the Ninja Gaiden series is game development wizards, Team Ninja. Team Ninja who is also famous for their fast action and buxom cast of ladies in Dead or Alive hasn’t lost their flair for the ample looking females, or smooth combat sequences. From the opening sequence of Ninja Gaiden II you will be introduced to the latex bound CIA agent Sonia Saunters, and then thrown into some fast paced combat. In standard game formula, Sonia quickly becomes a plot character who gets the adventure rolling when she is kidnapped by a gang of ninja thugs (The Black Spider Clan). This ques Ryu Hayabusa to return to the picture to save the damsel-in-distress which is only a subplot in something much larger inolving. Falling deeper into unpredictable trouble Ryu has to deal with a few univited fiends that have joined the Black Spider Clan in its pursuit for power. Ninja Gaiden II doesn’t have the most interesting storyline, but it does the job good enough to give gamers enough reason to keep the kill count rising.

Ninja Gaiden Amped
if you've hacked up enemies in the prior Ninja Gaiden series then you will instantly feel at home when returning to the controller. Ninja Gaiden II is as slick as before providing smooth action at a blistering speeds. Ninja Gaiden II is represented in HD with a pounding hard-rock guitar based soundtrack pumping in the background. It’s easy to get into the action when adrenaline additives are injected into the gameplay around every twist and turn in Ninja Gaiden II. Ninja Gaiden II is set at a faster pace than Ninja Gaiden Black which will please adrenaline junkies who want the satisfaction of constant action. Amped up you’ll be swinging the Dragon Sword faster than ever, knocking out new and trademarked combination kill tactics.

Controlling Ryu Hayabusa is very fluid and easy to learn which should please newcomers to the series. Fans of Ninja Gaiden will still have a challenge if you push up the difficulty level, two are offered in the start of the game. The majority of your button presses will find themselves on the X and Y for quick and strong attacks. Mix mashing them up with the certain directional presses will create some devastating combinations. The variety is initially there, but after a few consecutive hours playing the game they will all start to blur together. Not to nick pick, Ninja Gaiden II selection of combo moves is on par with any other game in a similar genre.

The Tools of the Ninja
The weapon selection in Ninja Gaiden II features Ryu’s returning weapon of choice, the Dragon Sword along with a collection of other weapons. You'll start the story off armed only with your tusty sword which quickly changes as you find The Lunar, a powerful staff that has very efficient bludgeoning skulls. After collecting the Lunar staff you will have a chance to play with the Falcon’s Talons in the second chapter of the game. The Falcon’s Talons are similar to the main offense used by the warriors of the Black Spider Clan. The Talons attach to Ryu’s feet and hands and feature long claws with three blades that can be used for quick attacks. I didn’t find the Talons too favourable in combat, although that could be attributed to my constant use of the Dragon Sword. The great thing about Ninja Gaiden II is that you can switch on the fly between weapons letting you approach each combat situation with a fresh approach. Sometimes you will find certain weapons are more effective than the one you are using, so if you get stuck on a battle just switch it up and try again.
That's not the end of the arsenal... you will also find a set of tonfas, bows, shurikens and more.

Like previous games you will be able to upgrade your weapons from their basic levels by spending points you collect in the game. Besides upgrading your weapons you can purchase items to help you in your battle that mainly focus on health regeneration. In my play through I didn’t find in necessary to over purchase too many of these items and mainly used the extras I picked up on the battlefield. Most of my points aimed at improving a weapons power which I found to tip the scales more on my side then having extra items. By level two I had completely leveled up the Dragon Sword and I was onto the next instrument of death in my personal armoury.

HD Dismemberment
In the graphics end of Ninja Gaiden II you will find a beautiful looking game that runs at an amazing frame rate given the amount of detail in the game. Although I wasn’t as blown away as I expected, Tecmo’s offering is still impressive. Ninja Gaiden II is comparable to Sigma that was released for the PS3 last year with a few obvious touch ups in the number of animations and overall polish of the game. In full speed, bashing away at your enemies never looked so good and what helps get the point across in the cool ‘dismembering mechanic’ that brings a little bit of the ultra-violence! I’m sure Alex (A Clockwork Orange) would be pleased at Ryu’s swift and diabolical lust for the blood. This dismemberment of almost ever limb of the enemy is the enough to justify that big “M” that is stamped on the box cover for the game. Ninja Gaiden II totally deserves the mature marker.

The dismembering mechanic is more than an aesthetic showcase of how the next-generation blood baths are preformed. This feature changes how enemies fight and how you have to handle their behaviour accordingly. Enemies who have a limb sliced off will become more aggressive and try harder to take your life. If they become too injured they will use a suicide attack that takes a big chunk out of your life bar. For aesthetics dismembered enemies help the player push out a little bit of evilness while you watch your enemies hobble around in a desperate attempt at life. No one said being a member of an evil ninja clan would be easy.

Ch... Ch... Ch... Changes
In regards to other changes in the game Team Ninja keeps the gameplay pretty straightforward from its upgraded version of Ninja Gaiden Black, but they have implemented a few new touches. First is the Ryu’s ability to recharge his health. Continuing the trend of modern gaming your characters health automatically replenishes once a battle sequence comes to an end. To balance things out a bit, and give more of a challenge Ryu can get semi-permanent injuries which takes a section of life away from the health bar. Serious injuries can be treated by buying items where as others can be sowed up when you find a blue save location. The auto-healing addition to Ninja Gaiden II is a little controversial and a questionable feature to add into the game. Most hardcore gamers admit that it takes away part of the challenge of balancing defensive and aggressive combat. This new way to manage health does make it easier for new gamers and since auto-healing seems to be in every game released nowadays the flow is easy to master.

Tutorials are also spread across the game world that you find on fallen enemies or allies. These scrolls that are clutched by their death grip unlock new moves that you can master. Ninja Gaiden II also has become a little more accessible to novice gamers with an easy difficulty level called “Path of the Acolyte”. This is a welcomed change for gamers that couldn’t get too far into the previous game without bouts of frustration. Ninja Gaiden is famous for being a tough game and Ninja Gaiden II is right up there, but at now you have a chance to take it easy as you learn the skill to jump up to the next level.

Tokyo, NYC and Beyond

Ninja Gaiden II takes care in holding you hand for a while letting you do battle against simpleton straight ahead enemies while it slowly builds up the change. Over time the enemies start to get faster, stronger and smarter. By the end of level 2 you will have seen your far share of near death battles including the first real challenge of the game, the boss battle with Genshin. From the simple indoor battles in Tokyo to the streets of NYC and beyond (or should I say below) Ninja Gaiden II keeps things interesting. Team Ninja also spices up the enemies flavour from warriors with different assortment of weapons to the strange and bizarre creatures that could have come out of a sci-fi horror game. In total you will have the chance to play through eight levels of non-stop ninja slicing action that keeps the admirable pace it sets from the get go.

Kill and Kill Again
If I had to point out a few shortcomings it is not from the controls or core gameplay mechanics which have been nailed. The problem area’s in Gaiden II is its repetitive nature of combat and how you progress through the levels. The level design is adequate, but after a few hours the freshness wears off and Ninja Gaiden II can set into a patterned routine. This also follows suit with the audio production which ranges from good to mediocre. Really, Ninja Gaiden II doesn’t offer up much to excite the ears besides the sound of the weapons clashing against steel, flesh and bone. Both these points really don’t hold up to any “real” negative points against Ninja Gaiden II, or make it a worse game. If you like combat action games then it is almost impossible too not get excited about Ninja Gaiden II.

Ninja Gaiden II has been adapted to the casual gamer market making Ninja Gaiden II more enjoyable across the board. For the hardcore Ninja fans, Ninja Gaiden II still offers up a strong challenge when the difficulty is increased. Ninja Gaiden II is faster, refined, and a bloody triumph for gamers who want non-stop action. Ninja Gaiden II might not reach the acclaim of its first remake from the old NES days, but it’s still a great game that you find enjoyment from. Ninja Gadien II is a definate buy for combat action fans.

Gameplay:8.5, Graphics:8, Sound:7, Innovation:8, Mojo:8.5  Final: 8.0 / 10

Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 06.09.08


  • Exhilarating ninja action: Assuming the role of a ninja warrior, experience the new "finishing blows" system that combines gore with fast action and a well-honed combat system. In addition to a variety of brutal new primary weapons and enhanced versions of previous favorites, Ninja Gaiden 2 features both land and water-based action with advanced on-water battles providing a beautiful counterpoint to the land-based action.
  • Easy to play, hard to master: Ninja Gaiden 2’s new auto-healing system featuring semi-permanent damage restored at save points is the natural evolution of the franchise’s distinctive gameplay, and introduces a new twist to managing health. Featuring a newly implemented auto-healing functionality and save point system.
  • Massive content and engrossing story: The themes of revenge and friendship in Ninja Gaiden 2 give rise to a series of dramatic events to create a truly compelling story. From Tokyo to New York and to the Netherworld, the story leads you through a 30-hour story mode as you skillfully maneuver Ryu Hayabusa through a demonized world fraught with peril and danger. In addition to the single-player campaign, upload Karma scores to Xbox LIVE leaderboards and participate in an all-new Master Ninja Tournament.
  • Realistic graphics in next-generation gaming: Built from the ground-up from Team Ninja’s in-house gaming engine for Xbox 360, Ninja Gaiden 2 represents the best in amazing visuals, responsive control, and thrilling combat with an extensive assortment of ninja weaponry.

Ninja Gaiden II


Team Ninja / Tecmo


US Release



1 Player
Dolby 5.1
HDTV 1080p
Marketplace D/L